Nashville Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson is establishing himself as a legitimate top-six forward in the league with a strong early performance in Music City. In a feature on the team’s official NHL.com website, John Glennon writes that Arvidsson, after going undrafted on two separate occasions before finally going in the fourth-round of the 2014 entry draft, is exceeding any expectations associated with someone of that pedigree.
The Swedish winger saw significant action during the 2015-16 campaign, appearing in 56 regular season games and all 14 postseason contests, but only flashed his on-ice abilities. Arvidsson tallied just eight goals and 16 points last year but through 20 games this season, the 24-year-old has nearly matched that level of production with six goals and 13 points. He’s on pace to register 20-plus goals and eclipse the 50-point plateau, which is production commensurate with a top-six forward.
After going undrafted in both the 2012 and 2013 entry drafts, Arvidsson worked hard in his native Sweden to turn himself into an energy player:
“When I got up to the Elite League in Sweden, they wanted me to work on my strength and stamina so that I could play at a high level every game and every shift. I worked really hard, and I think it helped me a lot. Since then, I’ve been an energy player. Before that, I was kind of an average player.”
Glennon compares Arvidsson to a popular former Predator, tough guy winger Jordin Tootoo, in that despite playing different styles, there is a “buzz” generated when they are on the ice.
Earlier this season, Arvidsson graduated to the team’s top line with center Ryan Johansen and winger James Neal. He’s currently fifth on the club in scoring and second behind only Neal in shots on goal with 61.
Arvidsson is just another example that procuring NHL talent is an inexact science at best. Quality players often go undrafted but with hard work can become regulars in the NHL.
Elsewhere in the Central Division:
- Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides updates on a couple of injured Blues. According to Rutherford, Alexander Steen returned to practice Saturday but it’s still unclear when he’ll return to action. Steen has missed the last five games due to an upper-body-injury. Meanwhile, the news is more optimistic for blue liner Joel Edmundson. He also returned to practice Saturday but Blues bench boss Ken Hitchcock indicated the 23-year-old defender could be ready to return to game action next week.
- After a 3 – 3 – 1 start to the campaign, the Chicago Blackhawks have turned their fortunes around, winning 11 of their last 16 decisions and accumulating 24 of a possible 32 standings points. This is despite boasting the league’s worst penalty kill, which allows nearly three goals for every 10 opportunities. The team has fared much better at even strength with a +13 goal differential in five-on-five man situations. But, as Chris Hine writes for the Chicago Tribune, the team feels as if they need to be even better. Head coach John Quenneville believes the team needs to generate more offensive opportunities at even strength: “We haven’t given up much five-on-five, but we haven’t generated what we’re looking for. A lot of games we’re neutralized (five-on-five), be it the neutral zone or both zones.”
- Lastly, Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News discusses the juggling that Stars head coach Lindy Ruff is having to do with the team’s blue line. Dallas has eight NHL-caliber defenders on the roster but obviously can only dress six on any given night. Johnny Oduya is currently on IR with a lower-body-injury but Ruff has still found it difficult to get Stephen Johns into the lineup. Consequently, the team assigned Johns to their AHL affiliate to get some game action this weekend. Johns scored three goals in two games for Texas, earning a quick recall to the big club. Meanwhile, Oduya appears to be nearing a return, according to Heika.